First fly in

David had told me a few weeks back about a fly in being arranged at Filton. Filton is due to close at the end of the year, and this seemed like an excellent chance to get it in my log book. Kev originally had the Arrow booked, and I arranged to tag along with him. However relatively late on he had to cancel, so I re-booked the aircraft myself. After several failed attempts at finding some passengers, I eventually ended up on my own.

The weather forecast for the day didn’t look great, with the TAFs warning of the possibility of heavy rain, thunderstorms and even hail during the day. The Metform 215 was a little more promising however, with all of these weather events being reported as ‘isolated’. The morning dawned bright and clear, and although there was plenty of scattered cloud around, there seemed to be plenty of gaps too. Filton is barely a 20 minute flight in the Arrow, so it seemed that I should be able either navigate my way around them or just return to Kemble should the need arise.

The Club was relatively busy as I arrived, and I completed the paperwork before heading out to the aircraft for the pre-flight checks. These were all normal, and I settled myself into the cockpit ready for the off. My GPS mount had recently become a little temperamental, and today it seemed to finally give up the ghost and fall apart completely. I eventually just placed it on the passenger seat beside me, so that I could refer to it should the need arise.

I managed to start the aircraft using the key for the baggage bay door (something I realise when doing the mag checks, as the key could be removed even though it wasn’t in the ‘off’ position!). I decided it was more sensible to shut down and use the correct key, as I didn’t want it suddenly disabling a mag or dropping out of the barrel during a critical portion of the flight. I had a little trouble getting the engine started again, but was soon ready to go.

As I taxyed to the hold, another aircraft was following behind me for a ‘crew change’. He parked slightly further up towards the hold as I completed the power checks, and once they were complete I moved into position at the hold. There was an aircraft backtracking from the other end of the runway, and once he was in position I was told to report lining up. I lined up myself (with the crew change aircraft following behind) and once the backtracking aircraft was airborne and turning away, I began my takeoff roll.

The takeoff was routine, and I made the 10 degree noise abatement turn after raising the gear and crossing the end of the runway. Once clear of the circuit I set course for Thornbury, making a quick check on the GPS to make sure I was on track. I changed frequency to Filton, and listened out for a while before making the initial call, reporting that I was routing via Thorbury. They asked me to report there.

Once approaching Thornbury, I reported and was told to head for the field and expect a Right Base join for 27. I was number 4 to land, with 3 other aircraft on varying length Final approaches. As I neared the field, the Controller asked me to make a single orbit and report when this was complete.

Once this was complete, I reported and was cleared to join, switching over to the Tower frequency. There were now 2 aircraft ahead, and I was visual with the number two aircraft. I joined behind him and got myself lined up for the runway. The aircraft ahead reported a 1 mile Final as I was about 3 miles away, and shortly after I was unable to to see him, visual only with an aircraft that had just landed. Worried that he might have misreported his position and been much closer to me, I informed the Tower that I was no longer visual, only to be told that the other aircraft had in fact already landed.

I continued my approach, and was soon cleared to land. It took some adjustment to get on the correct profile, and I brought the aircraft in for a very smooth touchdown, lowering the nose gear perhaps a little more firmly than I would have liked.

Update: I later found out that someone managed to get a photograph of me approaching the field, thanks to Stuart Carr for the use of this photo.

Short Final - thanks to Stuart Carr for the image

Short Final - thanks to Stuart Carr for the image

The Tower gave me taxy instructions, and I was soon greeted by the first marshaller, who handed me off to a second. The second marshaller directed me neatly into a parking space, before they pushed me back  to allow other aircraft to park in front of me.

The Arrow parked up

The Arrow parked up

As I climbed out of the aircraft, I was greeted by a local Club member, who asked if I’d just come in from Kemble. I was a little surprised he had known this, and he then told me he had seen another Club member at Heathrow recently. It turned out that he’d run in to David, and knew him because David had made enquiries into joining the Club at Filton too.

I headed over to a group of people standing in front of an impressive looking Extra 400, and learned that not only had the (very reasonable £10) landing fee been waived for the day, but there were free bacon sandwiches on offer too! We just had to wait for a minibus to head over to pick us up. We made small talk for a while, and got talking to a couple of guys that had flown in from Aston Down. Seemed like I wasn’t the only one that had made a short hop to get here!

Extra 400 - very nice!

Extra 400 - very nice!

Once the minibus arrived, the driver informed us that they were trying to get a large group of people together for a photo, and he would be back with another load to join us, before ferrying the new arrivals over to the Operations building. We talked to another local who told us that there was very little chance of Filton being able to remain open beyond the end of the year. It will be a real shame to lose a second major airfield in the region in such a short time (it’s not yet a year since RAF Lyneham closed). He did inform us that further fly ins were planned for later in the year, so perhaps I will have the chance to come back again, and perhaps bring some passengers with me next time!

Photos taken, we headed back to the minibus, and over to get some well earned food. A volunteer was making bacon sandwiches on an outside grill, and his young son was manning the collection box for the local air ambulance charity, that I was happy to make a donation to in lieu of the landing fee. I milled around for a little while, taking the chance to try to get some shots of the Concorde that is based at the airfield. I hadn’t realised that it was no longer possible to go on board, the museum no longer having funds to operate this facility.

Sadly, about as close as we got to the Concorde

Sadly, about as close as we got to the Concorde

After a relatively short while I headed back to get on the minibus. Another group boarded at the same time, and asked to be taken over to the hangar that contained a Spitfire  that was being restored. We headed over there, and I took the opportunity to try to get some better shots of the Concorde. Once there, we were greeted by a very helpful guy who talked us through some of the things that were being done to the Spitfire. It was a very impressive bit of kit to get so close to, and I’d love to have a go in something powered by that engine!



As I walked back to the aircraft, it began to rain, so I sheltered inside for a while to allow the brief shower to stop. Once it did, I checked that it was OK to push the aircraft back to enable me to depart (there were now a number of other aircraft parked ahead of and beside me) and pushed it back to give myself sufficient room to taxy out.

A pretty good turnout

A pretty good turnout

After a quick double check of the fly in details, I made the call to request start, and was initially asked to wait. After a short delay I was told to start, and then requested taxy when the engine was going. I was the only aircraft making the relatively straightforward taxy to the hold, and as I turned into wind for the power checks another aircraft (with a callsign something like G-VVVV!) was also cleared to taxy.

The power checks were normal, so I moved up to the hold and carried out the final pre-departure checks as the heavens opened and it began to rain heavily. I did consider whether it was wise taking off at present, but a quick look up at the sky showed that this was just a localised shower, and the cloud producing it was obviously at a relatively high level.

Once I reported ‘Ready for departure, right turn out’ I was immediately cleared for takeoff, with the aircraft behind me cleared soon after to line up and wait. I made a simple takeoff down the huge 2.5km long runway, and delayed retracting the gear for a while as I still had plenty of usable runway for a change! It really is a shame that such an impressive facility is due to close soon.

Climbing ahead to 1000 feet as per the noise reduction procedure, I turned right and headed for Thornbury again. A quick look back at the airfield showed it shrouded in the rain still, but in all other directions the visibility was excellent, with just the scattered cloud to worry about. I switched over to the Approach frequency when directed, before leaving them after making the turn from Thornbury direct to Kemble.

I used the GPS and ADF to set course back to Kemble, and reported in with them. I was the only other aircraft on frequency at the time, and I initially elected to join overhead for 26 as usual. For the second flight running I again had a little trouble spotting Kemble (although I was spotting all the other landmarks in the area) and was almost on top of it before I acquired it visually.

I checked with the FISO whether a Downwind join was acceptable, and was told there was ‘Nothing known to affect’. As I was so close in I had a little trouble getting down to circuit height in time, but managed it, joining Downwind as another aircraft appeared on frequency requesting departure information. It was an Ultimate High aircraft, and he was reluctant to accept taxy instructions that involved using the grass taxyway. The FISO eventually offered him a backtrack, which I hoped wouldn’t cause any confliction with my arrival.

It’s been a while since I made a join direct onto Downwind, and I ended up a lot wider than I would normally be. I incorrectly reported ‘Downwind 27 left’, and was told by the FISO ‘We have 26 here!’. I spotted Oaksey Park off to the right, and used that as another guide as to where I should be on the Downwind leg. I turned Base at the appropriate point to avoid the noise sensitive area, and then Final avoiding Kemble village.

The approach again went well, and yet again I brought the Arrow in for a nice gentle landing, this time lowering the nose gear much more gently to the ground. Perhaps the Arrow flatters the landings somewhat! As I’d made such a short flight, I decided there was little point in refuelling, so asked for a backtrack back to parking, which was approved (quite correctly) ‘at my discretion’.

As I neared the parking area, I could see that there were people in one of the Club’s Warriors making ready to leave, so I did my best to get the aircraft shut down and pushed back into its parking spot as quickly as possible so as to avoid delaying them. I did have some problem with the steering, as the Arrow doesn’t have a tow bar that positively mates with the nose leg, making steering somewhat difficult. I must check with Kev that I’m using the tow bar correctly.

The Warrior departed, and I set about getting the aircraft put to bed and the cover back on. Predictably this was the first time I was outside in really heavy rain today, and I got absolutely soaked trying to do the job by myself! Luned arrived with Catrin just after I’d finished (typical! although she had been trying to get there in time to help me). I quickly dumped my headset bag in the Club, before walking back out with the umbrella so that they could come into the Club with me and not get too wet.

Once all the paperwork was complete, we headed over to AV8 (of course in brilliant sunshine now!) and (as is becoming a bit of a ritual) had a well earned cup of tea and some cake!

After the flight I found out that the GPS appeared to drop out somewhere around Thornbury, so the profiles below are a little disjointed.

The routes flown

The routes flown - not a single Overhead Join!

Outbound profile (part 1)

Outbound profile (part 1)

Outbound profile (part 2)

Outbound profile (part 2)

Return profile

Return profile

There were many obstacles put in place of this flight. The failure to find someone to accompany me, plus the relatively unpredictable weather had really made me consider whether I wanted to go ahead. I’m glad I did though, as the conditions were actually pretty good, with the scattered showers easy to see and avoid while in the air. I’ve managed to add another airfield to my log book, attend my first fly in and take the opportunity to visit an airfield before it closes soon. Definitely worth it!

Total flight time today: 1:05
Total flight time to date: 187:40

4 Responses to “First fly in”

  1. flyerdavid Says:

    Andy. Another good writeup. It was good to hear that Filton had a reasonable turnout on what was pretty dubious weather. Sorry I had to miss it due to being away on a business trip.

    There is a towbar in the baggage compartment of the Arrow which fits directly inside the nosewheel, giving complete directional control when manually parking/pushing back.

  2. Andy Hawkins Says:

    Thanks David, was a good day, and a great chance to get Filton in the log book before it closes. Hopefully the rumoured fly-in later in the year will go ahead.

    Thanks for the info about the tow bar. I’ll have a proper look next time I fly.

  3. First local of the year! « Andy's Blog Says:

    […] a month since my last flight with the family to Compton Abbas, and even longer since I had last flown the Arrow, so I was in danger of running out of my 60 day currency limit. Sadly I’d had to cancel my […]

  4. 2012 Summary « Andy's Blog Says:

    […] more ‘sociable’ flying (a number of multi-aircraft trips with David, and a visit to a fly-in at Filton). Although I didn’t really do much to regain IMC currency, I did manage to successfully renew […]

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